Grocery Shoppers Screwed

In March 2011 the state passed the Shopping Reform and Modernization Act, a repeal and replacement of the Item Pricing Act of 1976. The 1976 law was passed in the midst of public anger about bar code scanners charging customers more for items than what was shown on the store shelf in front of the item. Michigan's response was considered the toughest in the nation.

The new 2011 law removed the requirement that each item for sale had to have a price tag on it. The new requirement is for item prices to be shown on a shelf or other location near the items. Other parts of the original law were retained, such as the "ten times the difference" penalty to be paid to a customer if they were over charged.

The new law kept in place the method shoppers would use to claim they been overcharged. Part of that is the ability to bring back your receipt up to 30 days later with your evidence. But if a price sticker is no longer required on the item, how is anyone going to be able to show what the price on the shelf was 30 days ago? The store will always be able to say that what was charged at the register was what the price was that day. So basically, if you don't catch it in the store, the new law has gutted the consumer protections in the old law.

When they passed this law in 2011, an appropriation of $100,000 was added for the state attorney general's office for "a public consumer education program" and a web site describing the new law. However, the web site says that the consumer rights materials have long been the most popular publications from their department. If that's true, appropriations for those have been long been part of their operating budget. There would have been no need to appropriate more when the law changed. That means the $100,000 was there only to make the new law unchallengable by referendum.

[ Back to parent article: Has the State of Michigan Screwed You? ]